The Westminster Water Warriors, a group of residents trying to recall four city councilors, filed a lawsuit Jan. 6. against the city over petitions it filed in October.

The filing is a last ditch-effort to recall Mayor Herb Atchison, Mayor Pro Tem Anita Seitz, Councilman Jon Voelz and Councilwoman Kathryn Skulley over claims the councilors unreasonably raised water rates. The goal is to overturn the city clerk’s decision that the recall petitions, which would have triggered a recall election, were insufficient.

The Water Warriors suit claims the city violated their right to recall and their free speech, as granted by the Colorado Constitution, a press release said.

“By employing hyper-technical and picayune standards, the Westminster City Clerk unconstitutionally rejected hundreds of recall petition signatures, thereby stifling the fundamental rights of thousands of voters,” the group said in a press release.

City of Westminster spokesperson Ryan Hegreness said the city is aware of the filing and will respond in court. The city didn’t offer additional comments because of ongoing litigation.

City Clerk Michelle Parker’s office issued a final certification of insufficiency on Dec. 7 after finding that all four recall petitions didn’t contain enough valid signatures required to trigger an election. The certification document shows the signatures Parker’s office rejected and the reasons why.

However, the Water Warriors have continued to dispute the city, saying the methods Parker’s office used were unnecessary. After the final certification of insufficiency, the recall committee was faced with giving up or taking the city to court.

The Water Warriors, who have emerged as a distinct political coalition in town over the past year, claim their battle is for economically disadvantaged residents. In a press release, they said, “Financially strapped families are experiencing more pressure with additional constraints of the pandemic to pay for their utilities.”